Burke peddled influence for £30,000 from builders

FORMER minister Ray Burke was handed £30,000 in cash at his home in north Dublin in June 1989 and knew it was for his support and influence in rezoning lucrative development land, the Flood Tribunal has concluded.

Mr Burke, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, was given the money in a brown envelope for his support and political influence so that 700 acres of land owned by JMSE in north county Dublin would be rezoned for housing development.

Allegations about the 1989 meeting in Mr Burke's Swords home opened the floodgates that led to the payments-to-politicians tribunal. The allegations were made by James Gogarty, an executive at JMSE who later fell out with his employer, Joseph Murphy Senior.

Mr Gogarty told Mr Justice Feargus Flood that JMSE and co-developer Michael Bailey of Bovale Developments had agreed to pay £80,000. In the event, Mr Justice Flood concluded £30,000 was handed over.

Mr Justice Flood accepted much of Mr Gogarty's evidence. He did not accept the evidence of others who faced the Tribunal over the payment to the North Dublin TD, appointed Justice Minister in 1989.

The Tribunal found Mr Burke, Joseph Murphy Senior, his son Joseph, JMSE executives Roger Copsey and Frank Reynolds and Bovale owners Michael, Tom and Caroline Bailey all obstructed and hindered the work of the expensive five-year investigation.

Mr Burke was forced to resign as Foreign Affairs minister in 1997 after the payment allegations were aired in the Dáil.

Mr Justice Flood concluded Mr Burke failed to give a truthful account of the circumstances surrounding the payment.

Mr Burke also:

Falsely maintained that Joseph Murphy Junior was not at the meeting when the money was handed over;

Offered evidence he knew to be untrue when relating what happened at the meeting;

Failed to give a truthful account of the nature of his relationship with Michael Bailey.

Speaking on the payment in the Dáil in 1997, Mr Burke - defending what he described as his personal integrity and that of his party - said he received in good faith the £30,000 as a "totally unsolicited political contribution".

The tribunal concluded: "the payment did not have the hallmarks of a legitimate political donation.” It did have the hallmarks of a secret payment made other than for legitimate purposes, Mr Justice Flood said.

Tribunal findings

THE Tribunal found:

A meeting at Burke’s Swords home was attended by: the former minister; Michael Bailey; Joseph Murphy Jnr; and, James Gogarty, in June 1989. It was arranged to pay Burke for his support and influence in ensuring land owned by Murphy in North Dublin would be rezoned.

The plan was to give Burke £80,000, half from Murphy’s company JMSE and the balance from the company’s planned development partner, Bailey. In the event, £30,000 was paid by JMSE. The partnership ended at some point afterwards.

JMSE executives, including Joseph Murphy Snr, knew about the meeting and the payment to Burke.

Gogarty was only a functionary and all actions taken by him, including the Burke payment, were done at Murphy Snr’s request.

Burke made clear at the meeting he understood the payment was being made in connection with the rezoning of Murphy’s land.

The payment to the former foreign affairs minister was corrupt and everyone at the meeting knew it.

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